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Manning defends decision to rip ex-Giants teammate Barber

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Eli Manning defended his decision to rip
former New York Giants teammate Tiki Barber on Wednesday, saying
there are times when you just have to react to criticism.

The quarterback also said there are also times to forgive and
forget, and that he would like to put his disagreement with the
halfback-turned-football-analyst behind them.

"I am fine talking to Tiki," Manning said between training
camp practices at the University at Albany. "If I see him, I'll
definitely talk to him. I will be friendly to him. I'm not trying
to start something. It's just a deal that happened and hopefully
when we see each other, and we will, and it won't be awkward. I
don't want it to be."

Manning's peace offering came 24 hours after he criticized
Barber for attacking his leadership on the halftime show of the
Sunday Night Football game between the Giants and Baltimore Ravens.

Barber had said that Manning's attempt to lead an offensive
meeting in the 12th week of the last season was "comical" at
times.

After sarcastically noting that Barber was making a smooth
transition from the playing field to television, the normally
reserved Manning said he could have questioned Barber's leadership
last season for calling out coach Tom Coughlin and then having
articles about him retiring in the middle of the season. It turned
out to be a major distraction for the Giants.

"I guess I have always been an even-keel guy, never really
responded back, always tried to make things smooth and easy,"
Manning said. "That's probably the first time I fired back a bit.
It was one of those things that I felt I needed to do."

Barber did not immediately return a telephone call left by The
Associated Press seeking comment on Wednesday.

Manning said he has not talked to Barber since the blowup.

"This is kind of a done issue for me," Manning said. "I made
some comments yesterday and it's over in my eyes. I don't want to
make it a bigger deal. I want to try to end it as soon as
possible."

Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts believes
his brother wants to get ready for Saturday's game against the Jets
and forget about the disagreement.

"I don't think it is really amusing," Peyton Manning said. "I
think he [Eli] hit it on the head when he said Tiki has made a
smooth transition to the media world because it seems ex-players
become ex-players pretty quickly."

He admitted he is defensive about all quarterbacks, but
especially his brother.

"You cannot play quarterback at any level, junior high, and not
be in a leadership position -- to do it for three years in high
school, three years in college and basically two years in the NFL
unless you are a good leader. The ones that aren't don't make it at
any level," Peyton Manning said.

While many teammates said they were unaware of the controversy
until Tuesday night, they applauded Eli Manning's actions and
words.

"I am not surprised," receiver Plaxico Burress said. "When
somebody talks about you, you are supposed to stand up for
yourself."

Guard Chris Snee said that no one on the team was going to get
bent out of shape by what Barber said. He also had a different view
of Manning's talk to the offense in the 12th week of last season.

"Eli is not a big vocal guy, but he has shown leadership,"
said Snee, who is Coughlin's son-in-law. "I have seen it. If Tiki
or anyone else wants to say they were laughing when he was
speaking, that's fine. I took it as if he [Eli] was fired up and
ready to play."

Brandon Jacobs, who inherited the starting job at halfback when
Barber retired, did his best to stay out of the controversy.

Six times he said that he had nothing to say about the
Manning-Barber rift.

The seventh time, he relented.

"It's just two leaders," said Jacobs, who was mentored by
Barber the past two seasons. "Tiki was a great leader for us last
year and Eli was a great leader for us as well, and will be this
year. They're two grown men and I'm sure they are going to find a
way to settle their differences."